26 Jan 2024, 13:31
Franca Quecke

German grid operators require €7.8 billion more than planned for renewables support this year


German power transmission grid operators have said that an additional 7.8 billion euros from the country's budget is needed to pay out renewable energy support in 2024, reports business daily Handelsblatt. The call for additional funds is the result of shortfalls in the Renewable Energy Act (EEG) account, from which renewables support is paid out to operators of wind and solar parks. In the past, grid operators passed on the cost of support payments to consumers via the renewables levy (EEG surcharge). However, since mid-2022 - at the height of the energy crisis - the costs have been covered by the federal budget to lessen the burden of high prices on consumers. Based on assumptions about future electricity generation and market prices, grid operators submit a forecast of the EEG financing requirements in the fall of the previous year; the original estimate for 2024 was 10.6 billion euros, writes Handelsblatt.

The grid operators justify the additional amount of 7.8 billion euros citing residual claims from 2022 and 2023 amounting to 3.4 billion euros. The remaining 4.4 billion euros stem from developments on the electricity market. If wholesale electricity prices are low, many renewables operators are paid the difference between the market value of the electricity and a pre-agreed amount per kilowatt hour. That means that the lower the market price, the higher the support payments are.

Grid operators now expect lower wholesale power prices than initially assumed, which means more support is likely needed to be paid out. There is a "very urgent need to adjust the advance payments in the short term" for the months of February and March, according to a letter to state secretary Philipp Nimmermann in the economy ministry, seen by the newspaper. The letter, signed by the heads of Germany's four transmission system operators (TSOs) - 50Hertz, Amprion, TenneT and Transnet BW - warned of liquidity problems.

The additional needs will put a burden on the federal budget at an inconvenient time for the government. After weeks of disputes within the ruling coalition over the budget crisis triggered by a constitutional court ruling, the 2024 federal budget has just been approved, now risking the first significant additional expenditure. 

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